S 85


S 85


From the temple of Tripurantaka
The image which was originally a part of the Tripurantaka temple built in 1070 CE visualises in stone the famous legend of the Hoysala King after whom the dynasty derived its name. The Hassan inscription dated 1149 CE, is the earliest inscriptional record of the legend, describing the event in detail.
There are several versions of the incident which occurred at Sosavur (also known as Angadi) in the Kadur district in Karnataka. As cited in Gadag Inscription of Viba, Ballala II dated Saka Samvat 1114= 1192 CE, Sala was passing through the forest. An ascetic, terrified at the appearance of a lion called out hoysala (strike Sala) hearing which he slew the lion. Another version recorded in the Belur inscription 171, states, that when Sala was hunting along the slopes of the Sahya mountains of the Western ghats, he was astonished to see a hare pursuing a lion. Terrified of the lion the rishi called out poysala (strike Sala) and before it could step a span, Sala slew it with a dagger. This gave the Hoysalas their family name and their crest. Other versions describe Sala killing the lion with a rod of a cane or an iron.
The sculpture highlights the slaying of the lion by placing the King and the lion in the foreground. The might of the pouncing lion is vividly expressed by the amplification of his figure in proportion to the entire stele as also by highly stylised fierce claws, bulging eyes and wide open mouth. The King is fast advancing towards him in big strides with a raised straight and broad sword in his right hand, and a shield in his left. Two small boars near the king’s leg and an elephant is seen behind the lion, profuse flora with trees and winding creepers all around on the sides and the top of the slab, suggest the forest.
The artist has depicted the earlier sequence of the King hunting in the forest by carving a smaller figure of the King on a richly caparisoned galloping horse behind, at a distance. The hunting dogs wearing collars around their necks are trying to attack the lion.
The ascetic, who was frightened by the animal, witnesses this feat of the king sitting on the branch of a tree in the right corner. His hair is tied straight behind in a bun and a short dhoti is the only garment covering his otherwise bare body. The king is adorned with various ornaments and a wig-like head-dress with peacock feathers carved in the centre. His pose is typical of many viragal heroes from Karnataka. The sculpture beautifully reveals how the quality of stone has facilitated the rhythmic flow of lines of the intricate design work as well as deep and smooth undercuts.



Object Type









dated 1070


Balligame, Karnataka


58 x 105 x 17.5 cms.